Sunday, February 3, 2008

Getting Ready to Return to the Rest of My Life

I imagine some of my frequent readers are thinking "Now why don't he write". I've been at my place of employment for the past 13 days, protecting the Pipeline from the ravages of crime, terrorism and disease. The fact is, my job isn't all that exciting nor is it newsworthy, and because of the nature of both security and medical work I'm not at liberty to share many details.

For quite a few years now, I have spent a bit more than half of my life away from home, earning my living. My normal work schedule is two weeks on / two weeks off. Some folks may say "Gee, it must be nice getting a two week vacation every month", but in reality it doesn't quite work that way. My profession as a paramedic is a training-intensive occupation that requires me to spend approximately six weeks each year in various training settings. All of this training must be done during my scheduled time "off".

In addition, all of those little things that most folks do before and after work or during their weekends I must do in intensive bursts during my "R&R" time. Something as simple as reading the mail can take up much more time than most folks realize. Two weeks worth of mail accumulation may take as much as three or four hours to read, filing those things that must be filed, paying those bills that must be paid, shredding all the crap loaded with sensitive personal information that the damned credit card companies can't resist sending through the post and so forth. Any little task that requires only 10 minutes a day when you are home and able to do it on a daily basis adds up to more than 2 hours when the chore is set aside for two weeks at a time.

For many years I have worked hard to keep my professional life as separated from my "real" or personal life as much as I can. Any Emergency Services career, regardless of discipline, requires a lot of dedication. It isn't unusual for law enforcement officers, emergency medical services workers and firefighters to find that the job becomes THE over-riding focus of their personal identity. We tend to forget that there is much more to life than just being a cop or being a medic or being any other worker but if one allows the job to become the center of his or her existence, any semblance of balance is thrown to the winds.

When a young person enters a career in any of the emergency services, it becomes really easy to get so caught up in the job that all other aspects of a healthy, balanced life are ignored. In an effort to gain experience and improve crucial skills or in many cases just to make financial ends meet the new worker puts in tons of overtime, or may even take on a second, part-time job in the same profession. As a result the job becomes a lifestyle rather than just a job.

I've have been in continuous practice as a medic for over 30 years, which is really rather remarkable. Most paramedics leave the field after less than a decade of service. I attribute my professional longevity to my practice of keeping my professional life separate from my "real" life outside the job.

With only one more wakeup followed by one more night at my place of employment, I'm starting the monthly transition to returning to my chosen personal lifestyle and I am very much looking forward to this upcoming R&R. Lots of fun things are going to happening my my world.

I'm going to have company. Janece, a dear friend of more than 20 years is coming up from Kentucky for a week long visit and Dillingham musher Kyle Belleque is coming up for a couple of days. We will of course be mushing the dogs and enjoying all the activities associated with next weekend's start of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Kyle will be leaving shortly after the Quest mushers hit the trail, and Janece and I will head up to Chena Hot Springs where we'll serve a shift as checkpoint volunteers followed by a good breakfast and a long soak in the hot springs. Next week Janece and I are planning an overnight cabin camping trip into the White Mountains National Recreation Area with the team.

So please excuse me if I go missing from the blog for a while. Sooner or later I'll catch my breath and share the most recent news, but for the most part I suspect I'm going to be way too busy to spend much time on-line or writing. No worries, though. Once things settled down I'll come back up on-line to share all the fun with you.


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